Efforts to open a Trader Joe's grocery store in Boulder took a major step forward Tuesday.
Demolition work began on the former Applebee's restaurant, 1906 28th St., at the Twenty Ninth Street mall.
Once the brick building is razed and its debris hauled off, construction will start on a 14,000-square-foot Trader Joe's store, which is expected to open as early late fall, officials for Twenty Ninth Street said.
"This is a big project and there's a lot of work and a lot of moving pieces that go into it," said J.T. Fulton, Twenty Ninth Street's property manager. "Obviously, we'd like the store to be up in a day. It's not a reality."
Whether the Boulder store will be the first Trader Joe's in Colorado remains unclear. A second Trader Joe's is under construction off Colorado Boulevard and East Eighth Avenue in Denver.
Both locations are scheduled to open this year, said Alison Mochizuki, a Trader Joe's spokeswoman, adding that definitive dates have yet to be set.
The Denver location will be 18,000 square feet and will house the chain's sole liquor store in the state. Colorado law allows grocery stores and chains only one liquor license to sell full-strength beer, wine and spirits.
The arrival of Trader Joe's in Colorado and, specifically, Boulder has been highly anticipated. Thousands of residents have petitioned for the California grocer to open a store in Colorado and municipal leaders and industry officials have said the store could become a regional draw and a boon to city coffers.
In anticipation of Trader Joe's and the recently opened Charming Charlie, the June arrival of Five Guys Burgers and Fries and the fall arrivals of H&M and MadeWell, Twenty Ninth Street officials have made a "significant" investment in new signage at the center, Fulton said.
The aim is to improve traffic circulation and better direct patrons of the central shopping district to the underground parking lot, easing congestion in the northern and southern portions of the center.
"It's under-utilized now, and part of that is on us," Fulton said of the 1,000-space underground lot.
Improvements within the underground lot include painting the ceiling deck to brighten the space and adding paints and signage to direct shoppers to certain retailers, he said.
Contact Camera Business Writer Alicia Wallace at 303-473-1332 or firstname.lastname@example.org.